Secondary Smoke and Hearing Loss


A study published in the July issue of the Archives of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery concluded that exposure to tobacco smoke nearly doubles the risk of hearing loss among adolescents.
Over 1,500 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 16 were part of the study and had been part of the 2005-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The subjects were evaluated in their homes, and subsequently given extensive hearing tests, and blood tests for cotinine, a chemical metabolite of nicotine at a medical center. Findings showed that those exposed to second hand smoke did worse on all sound frequencies tested and especially at the mid to higher frequencies that are important in understanding speech. In addition, those with the greatest exposure as measured by blood tests for cotinine, were more likely to have one-sided low frequency hearing loss. These are especially important finding because about half of all children in the United States are exposed to second hand smoke.

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